Sunday, 28 November 2010


It's the pantomime season so in the best traditions of Aladdin, here I am, your genie of the lamp, to offer you three wishes. Well if you're reading this you've obviously got too much time on your hands so please indulge me.

You have to decide what your three wishes would be but there are some conditions. Your first wish has to be a wish for the whole of mankind. Your second wish has to be for your family. Finally, your last wish may be for yourself or you may choose to make a wish for someone else.

I'll go and boil the kettle while you're having a think.

My guess is that your first wish was for global peace. I agree with that sentiment. I can think of nothing better than to put all our soldiers out of work. I would refine it a little though. When you look back at all the wars which have taken place, it seems to me that religious differences are most often the root cause of hatred and enmity. So my first wish is for global religious tolerance.

Your second wish was for your family. I'm afraid you can't wish them health, wealth and happiness because if my Maths is right, that is three wishes. When you think about it, it's a no-brainer. I wish them happiness. If they are happy, they are not likely to be too ill or too poor are they?

Finally did you wish for something for yourself or did you selflessly bestow it on another? Me? Being the clever clogs that I am I wished for three more wishes!

Wednesday, 24 November 2010


I have been fascinated by computers ever since 1980 when I bought my first machine, a Sinclair ZX80. The ZX81 followed and then the Spectrum and a whole host of other computers which now reside in techno museums somewhere.

It wasn't long before I discovered role-playing games and spent many hours in a virtual world usually with a virtual sword in my hand and my heart racing as I wondered what would be around the next corner. Of course sometimes this was a monster of some sort or a massive warrior who would smash though my feeble defences and dispatch me to my virtual grave.

The joy of these adventures was that by frequently performing a 'save' of the scenario which I had reached, I could easily 'restore' myself to the situation as it was before my demise. Of course, now that I was aware of what lay around the corner I would be all ready to deploy my sword before the creature had time to draw virtual breath.

I rarely indulge myself in such adventures nowadays but there are many thousands of people who do. I completely understand why people would want to bring excitement into their humdrum everyday lives by taking on roles which are normally the stuff of dreams. It is easy to escape from reality and emulate your heroes by being victorious in battles, winning races or becoming a 'guitar hero'.

What I can't get my head round, is those people who choose to live in a virtual world which is close to their normal lives.

In 2009, a Korean couple became totally addicted to a role-playing computer game called Prius. The game involves raising a virtual child called 'Anima'. Indeed they spent so many hours in an internet cafe looking after Anima that left alone back home, their own 3 month-old baby starved to death.

Sadly, the couple cannot restore their lives to an earlier time to retrieve the situation.

Sunday, 21 November 2010


If you're anything like me, you spend a lot of time playing games on your computer or mobile phone. If you're less techno, it might be solitaire or jigsaws. I love doing this but I always feel a little bit guilty when I've finished. My thoughts are usually based around "I could have been doing .... instead". Well I may have the answer.

Next time you reach for the mouse / cellphone / jigsaw or pack of cards consider doing one of the following instead. The important point is that you can do them all sitting down in your favourite comfy place.

1. (My favourite). Stage 1: Make a list of jobs which you need to do. This could be a lengthy list and might well include some of the items below but don't despair as the list grows because next we have - Stage 2: Prioritise your list. This makes you feel a whole lot better as you push some of the jobs into the background.

2. Organise your photos. Sort them out, discard some, stick them in albums, label them and while you're doing it, think of how much the kids will appreciate your efforts after you drop off the perch. Last Christmas, my wife made individual photo albums for the kids showing them at various stages of growing up. They both said these were the best presents they'd ever had.

3. Make a meal plan for the week. This has nothing to do with diets or healthy eating (unless you want it to), just have fun thinking ahead to what you'd like to eat each day. Give some thought to being a little more adventurous when you know you will have more time available and don't be afraid to include take-aways.

4. Write letters. This is so much fun as an activity and the recipients will love you for it. Consider slipping some of those photos in with the letter too. I have a relative who lives in Australia who sends me wonderful letters and he always sticks something inside - last time it was a Kookaburra feather!

5. Write down some of your memories. make sure you buy a special book or journal for this. think of it as a sort of diary set in the past.

If you do some of these I can pretty much guarantee that you'll feel you've really achieved something with your time. Anyway..... back to my game of solitaire.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010


I hate to let facts get in the way of a good story. You may have heard of the striped mittenfish. No? How remiss of you. Well the story goes that this is a recently discovered deep water fish which lives near Java where the coffee comes from. Please stop yawning or at least put your hand in front of your mouth when doing so. Trust me this is an interesting fish.

The story goes on to say that this incredible creature can change its sex at will by turning itself inside out. I cannot find corroboration for the story but I just love the concept. Just imagine if you will what this would be like for humans.

You would wake up and think 'what sex shall I be today?' Actually this is a no-brainer. On waking I would definitely be a male. We take a lot less time to get ready in the morning. I'd remain male for breakfast because I prefer a cooked breakfast to the rabbit food which women seem to eat.

Then it's off to the shops. I would change into a woman before leaving the house just so that I could drive a pink convertible car and also because male drivers would give way to me as I whizz around with my long blonde hair streaming in the wind.

On arrival at the shops I would pop into the loo to change back into the male sex. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly there's always a queue for the ladies' toilets and secondly men can get their shopping done so much quicker.

Having got my purchases I'd probably go female again so that I could go and get pampered somewhere. Nothing too grand, just a facial, Indian head massage, quick visit to the nail bar, back massage and pedicure.

The more I think about this ability to change sex at will, the more I like it. Except for one thing. When changing from male to female. Where would I put the spare half of my brain?
*Ducks quickly :)

Sunday, 14 November 2010


The year is 1960. My family have just moved to Bristol and taken over a pet shop. Although my mother intends to convert this into a furniture shop, she continues selling rabbits and budgerigars for a few months to get the hang of the selling thing.

I am a spotty youth aged 13 and a quarter. It is Saturday morning and I am working in the pet shop to help my mother out. A scruffy boy enters the shop, approaches the counter and says he has something to sell. He proceeds to put his hand in his pocket and pull out a white mouse. "How about sixpence?" he asks. We agree on threepence and I ask him to put it in the mouse cage so I don't have to handle it.

Fast forward 50 years to a different shop in Bristol - the 'Apple' computer store. There I am again, now a gentleman of mature years aged 63 and a quarter. I approach the counter. "I am having a problem with something I bought from you" I announce. I then put my hand in my pocket and pull out a white mouse.

“The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.” - Ecclesiastes.

Wednesday, 3 November 2010


I read with interest that 'they' are predicting the end of the wristwatch. Apparently, we will all be checking the time on our mobile phones rather than on our wrists. Personally, I don't think watchmakers need to become suicidal just yet though. There are still some 86% of us who wear a watch. I think the doom-mongers may have forgotten that wristwatches are not just utilitarian but are also very much fashion accessories. So hang on to your shares in Cartier or Rolex for the moment.

However, it set me thinking about which other everyday 'essential' items might become redundant in the future. Here are a few possibilities.

Books. Of course we are being led to believe that in future, we shall be reading our books on kindles so the poor booksellers and libraries might as well shut up shop. I've already expressed my opinion on this in an earlier post and I remain firmly convinced that this is nothing but sales hype from those who are trying to flog their new fangled kindle thingles.

Diaries and calendars. Now here I must confess that I have succumbed to the trend and my time management is totally electronic now. It is many years since I last bought a diary and it is one less thing to have to carry around. There are still times though when I think that writing in a diary was easier for some tasks - especially when making changes.

Newspapers. As with books, the suggestion is that we shall download our newspapers direct to our iPads in future. Hmmm. Maybe. But in my humble opinion, the only sensible way to do a crossword is with a pen, not a keyboard. There's another factor here. Old newspapers have always been extremely useful. My grandparents used theirs for lighting the fire with. There is also a time-honoured tradition of using them to wrap fish and chips in. Furthermore, what are you going to line the bottom of the rabbit hutch with pray tell?

Calculators. Any smart phone worth its salt has a calculator app and since the nature of the beast involves tapping on keys this may indeed be an item which will not survive the test of time.

Phones. I mean landlines of course. The kids today all have mobile phones so they don't need to pay out for a landline phone at home. Surely it can only be a matter of time before older generations follow suit.

So is anything future-proof? Which of the possessions which our ancestors used will still be around in the next century? The only thing which comes to mind is clothes unless of course, the naturists inherit the earth.